Something Wicked This Way Comes Comes Again!

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

“By the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes.”

–Macbeth

A few hours ago I was re-linking my movies in iTunes (for some reason iTunes linkages break sometime, though I have suspicions why it happens) when I noticed Jack Clayton’s movie of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes.

There’s talk about it being rebooted, and if any movie warranted such treatment, it’s this one.  Jack Clayton’s version wasn’t in any way bad, but Bradbury’s novel–it’s been quite awhile since I last read it–was about innocence, loss and young people longing to become adults, without understanding all that such a transition entails.

Which isn’t to say that the movie didn’t touch on those themes, though it did so hesitantly, instead of going for the jugular, so to speak.

Like The Black Hole, Something Wicked This Way Comes was caught in the odd space Disney occupied for quite awhile, when as a viewer you weren’t quite sure who they were making them for.  They were oddly schizophrenic, playing a bit too intense for children, yet not serious enough for older viewers.

And speaking of older viewers, Jack Clayton was not the first choice to direct.  For awhile there was talk of Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, The Osterman Weekend, The Killer Elite, Convoy, etc) helming, which would have been a very, very interesting choice mainly because he was accustomed to dealing with violence, more so than Clayton.

Though that doesn’t mean that Jack Clayton’s movie was pretty entertaining, though the idealized world depicted in the movie wasn’t one that I was terribly familiar with.

Hopefully the reboot will have a greater sense of universality about it (and hopefully take place in times closer to our own) though that might have a lot to do with the nature of the novel itself, in that anytime you’re working with a medium based upon imagination, how you envision things is very much a partnership between the reader and the writer.

Love In The Time Of Monsters – Review

Love in the Time of Monsters poster

“So this is where the American Dream died.”

  —Marla

Matt Jackson’s Love in the Time of Monsters–a play on Gabriel Garcia’s Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera?–is interesting for a lot of reasons, the first being that it’s so thematically similar to Zombeavers that it almost plays like a sequel.

Luckily, Love in the Time of Monsters is a better movie, though neither will be winning any awards, Saturn or otherwise, any time soon.

My biggest issue with it is that it takes two interesting leads–Marla (Gena Shaw) and Carla (Marissa Skell), both who’s views on family vacations were marred by the death of their father, who died when Paul Bunyan’s ax fell on him during a trip to Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California–and does relatively little with them.

Paul Bunyan and Babe Paul Bunyan and Babe

The movie covers their first vacation together in 15 years.

And while neither sister was unscathed by the experience, Marla seems worse off, becoming cynical and unable to maintain a relationship for any length of time.

Hoping that this family outing goes better than that last one–it doesn’t–they decide to visit Uncle Slavko’s All-American Family Lodge, where Carla’s fiancee works as a Bigfoot performer.

Yes.  I did just type ‘Bigfoot performer.’

Where the movie succeeds most is in the backgrounds of its quirky supporting cast, such as Uncle Slavko (Michael McShane), who, despite running an “All-American Family Lodge” isn’t American or Dr. Lincoln/Doug (Doug Jones) a chemist that just happens to be working at that lodge because of the economy.

And sure, they’re less individuals than vehicles designed to get the story from one point to the next, but everyone looks like they’re having enough fun that it’s easy to overlook.

Another similarity to Zombeavers is a panoply of zombified animals, which would have been much more welcome if they had come a bit earlier in the movie–they first make an appearance in the latter third–with the zombified trout being particularly effective (though the vultures (?) were pretty memorable as well).

When all is said and done, Love in the Time of Monsters is fun, and pretty well-acted, considering the genre, though it’s not quite Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Love in the Time of Monsters is prowling the fringes of iTunes, VOD and Amazon.

Pixels – Trailer 2

I’ve got to admit that despite the presence of Adam Sandler in a movie virtually guaranteeing that it’s going to appeal to the lowest possible denominator, I am hoping for Pixels.

Maybe it’s the presence of Chris Columbus (the director of Home Alone, Adventures in Babysitting, two Harry Potter movies, etc) and actors like Josh Gad, Sean Bean and Peter Dinkage that, working their hardest, they’ll will be able to generate enough comic energy to escape the blackhole-like pull that is Sander’s mediocrity.

I doubt it, but I can dream.

Steve Jobs – Teaser Trailer

When the news came out that David Fincher was no longer directing the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic, and that Danny Boyle was, people on various forums were complaining about what a terrible choice that was (especially compared to Fincher).

I wasn’t amongst them because I have always thought that Boyle was a very talented director.  Everything he’s done may not be perfect–then again, what director, acclaimed or otherwise, has ever reached such a lofty goal?–but most of it is undeniably interesting.

As is the casting of Michael Fassbender, in that he looks nothing like Jobs; though judging from what you can see here, his mannerisms and speech are very evocative of Apple’s famously mercurial leader.

It looks like it could be a winner; though I wonder if Aaron Sorkin’s script was authorized by Apple or the Jobs estate?  I haven’t heard any protests from either, so I assume so.

A Case For Lesser Known Directors

Some people are critical of Marvel using lesser known directors for the superhero properties–the main one being that they’re cheaper than better known talent.  This relates directly to rumors that they’re considering  Rick Famuyiwa and Ava DuVernay, for upcoming Marvel projects.

And while their relative inexpensiveness is undeniably a factor, I don’t think it’s nearly as important as some make it out to be.

What’s more interesting is that Marvel has a history of allowing relatively inexperienced (in the terms of handling massive productions that require huge special effects budgets) directors to build multi-million dollar franchises.

Which isn’t to say that it always works out.  After all, Edgar Wright left the upcoming Ant-Man because his vision (and screenplay) didn’t quite mesh with what Marvel Studios wanted, and Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) was a bit put out because Marvel demanded certain changes during filming that he was not particularly happy about.

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Jem and the Holograms – International Trailer

While I don’t think that I am intended as the target audience for John Chu’s upcoming Jem and the Holograms , the trailer doesn’t play nearly as irritatingly as I thought it would.

And sure, the face paint is a few decades out of style–the comic they’re based on a line of Hasbro toys, which spawned a cartoon, is from the mid-Eighties–it seems that the movie deals issues of family and loyalty as well.

And while I still have no desire to see it, it’s comforting that it’s not just a paean to ‘girl power.’

And if successful it gives me hope that we’ll eventually see a movie based on another Hasbro property, Rom: Spaceknight!

Late Phases – Review

“Late Phases Is An Interesting Diversion, Though Hardly The Best The Werewolf Genre has To Offer.”

When all is said and done, what separates great werewolf movies from also-rans is the quality of the titular beast itself, which unfortunately isn’t Late Phases strongest point.  The aforementioned monsters here look less like wolves than large hairy gnomes, which is interesting–and a little bit odd–because it’s not like research material–wolves–can’t be found in zoos or on the Internet.

In nature they’re beautiful, powerful creatures (and significantly larger than you’d think) that are in their way quite graceful.

The closest filmmakers have come to capturing the innate grace and power of the animals has been in movies like Dog Soldiers (where director Neil Marshall actually had them played by dancers, in an effort to give them a certain elegance of movement) and Joe Dante’s The Howling.

In John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London, while it had groundbreaking practical effects by FX virtuoso Rick Baker, the creature itself was more bear-like than wolf (which had a lot to do with how bulky it was.  Wolves aren’t massive in that sense, and they move with an ease that Landis’ monster lacked).

Where Late Phases does shine is in its depiction of relationships, in particular, those between fathers and sons.  Nick Damici does well as Ambrose, a soldier who’s blinded in combat, and whom can’t seem to put the war, the Vietnam War, behind him.

Ethan Embry holds his own as his son, Will, who’s doing the best he can for his father, though the tension between the two is always bubbling beneath the surface.

Damici plays blind well, though something’s a bit off about his performance.  Part of it is that he really looks like Charles Bronson, which is distracting.

Another is that he seems always tense, as if his sense of peace went along with his vision.

As I implied, the movie is for the most part petty well-done, though it’s at it’s weakest when the werewolves make their appearance.

Which is a pity, since it is after all a werewolf movie.

Late Phases is currently stalking on Netflix.